Further international subsidiaries were also founded in the 1990s and 2000s: Weleda Chile in 1992, Weleda Peru in 1993, Weleda Japan in 1999, Weleda Slovakia in 2000 and Weleda Finland in 2004.
Today, Weleda is represented in over 50 countries on five continents, and has around 2,000 full-time employees around the world, of which 70% are women.
How would you sum up your brand in two sentences?
Weleda is the original green beauty pioneer that has led the way in natural cosmetics, inspiring and birthing other brands like Dr Hauschka and Neals Yard Remedies. We make life-enhancing products that help rebalance and show the body how to look after itself naturally.
If I had to use one word to describe Weleda it would be integrity.
What difficulties have you faced as an ethical brand?
We face regular challenges and difficulties. Ethical sourcing of our ingredients can take years to establish, as we don’t buy on the open market, and that means we can have shortages. Growing crops organically without chemical pesticides and sprays can be challenging, if the harvest is reduced because of disease and we have insufficient materials of the required quality.
The chamomile harvest was poor one year – not just ours, but everywhere – which was a huge challenge as it’s a key ingredient in our top selling cosmetic Weleda Skin Food. Our farming partnerships and suppliers in some countries are also sometimes tested by climatic effects, by political unrest, or infections killing bees. It’s tricky forecasting what we are likely to sell two years ahead - we can’t easily grow some ingredients if we need more suddenly.
One of the biggest challenges we regularly face is how to differentiate ourselves from all the ‘nature inspired’ brands on the market, many of which have much lower standards. We spend a lot of time, and money, establishing our credentials, assuring quality processes, and certifying our products. Every single one of our cosmetics bears the NATRUE seal for example, and it does take a lot of commitment.
How do you differ from other organic brands?
Weleda remains privately owned by two non-profit foundations who guarantee our independence and for whom Weleda is not an investment that needs to generate a certain yield. This means we can put sustainability at the top of our agenda, before profit. We make all our own products ourselves, unlike many brands that work with contract manufacturers.